Love, Justine was started to inspire folks to love themselves, and thus be able to love one another. Well, I have a confession to make. I'm not always good at practicing what I preach. If you ever heard the way I've criticized myself and how I have judged myself, you might think I'm an awful, miserable person. It's truly terrible and so unhealthy.
As I've been preparing for Lent, which is finally upon us, I thought very hard about what I was going to do and give up this year. I pondered this for a few months, and one day a light suddenly opened up in my head as if the sun were rising out of it. I said to myself, I am going to give up fat shaming myself, and hating on myself in general. While I'm not berating myself daily, it's not an uncommon thought that crosses my mind, thinking things like "Oh, I hate my body," "I'm so ugly," "Why are my hips so wide and my legs not longer?" and the list goes on.
The level of consciousness I have regarding my body is something that was drilled into my brain as a small child. So, I don't think ever in my life, have I looked at myself and thought, I love my body. Whether I was a size 0 or 4, or a 6 (and I've been all those sizes), there was always room for improvement. It's really sad not to love your body.
Thankfully, when I was in law school I learned how to take care of my body and treat it well. I learned how to eat clean, and not only do workouts that I enjoy, but workout because it makes me feel good and strong, not because I needed to be "skinny." I learned that taking care of the one body I've been blessed with is so important, because I only have one life to live and I need this body to work properly for as long as possible, so I can do all the things I want to do in life.
Still, I've found it very difficult to speak kindly to myself, and to speak to myself with the kind of respect I command and expect from others. When my husband tells me I'm beautiful, and I have a hard time knowing whether that's true or not, then something is very broken inside. There are a multitude of reasons for this, and I'm not always sure of the starting point of it all, but what I do know is that I don't want to hate myself. I want to love myself wholly, because I know that if I don't then I am robbing myself of love and robbing my loved ones of love they deserve. Moreover, if I ever have a daughter, I would never want her to speak to herself the way I have spoken to myself. It breaks my heart thinking of anyone hating themselves so much.
So, for Lent I am giving up saying the words "I'm fat" and "I'm ugly." Anything that would constitute verbal abuse if it were said to another person, I am refraining from, because it's time to stop verbally abusing myself. Lent is a time for spiritual growth, and that growth requires me to love the way God my made me. I am a confident woman, so I should learn to speak to myself like a confident woman.
Of course, the inevitable question is, "Well after Lent, will you go back to calling yourself fat and ugly?" No. My hope is, and I pray that, during this blessed season, I will build a habit out of loving myself and really learn what it is to love myself. There are other things I will also do to help me really come to my center, like taking Sundays off. For the next 6 weeks I will not check emails or work on Sundays, because this will allow myself to fully rest and be ready to work like a high speed train the rest of the week. More importantly, it'll allow me time to truly be with myself. Giving alms is an important aspect of Lent, so I will also be giving alms in various ways to spread love and joy throughout this season. I am dedicating the next 6 weeks to mending what was broken so long ago and I'm excited to see how I grow in this time.
Observing Lent the way I have set out to do this year is my way of telling God, thank you for creating me, I truly appreciate what you've blessed me with, and I love you. It's also my way of telling myself, "I love you." I cannot keep doing what I'm doing if I do not learn to wholly love myself.
It's time to escape my demons for once and for all.
BIG LOVE & HUGS